"We'll meet on the ship. Just before sunset. Take care."
Ellias watched, slightly confused, as his companion walked away. His display of magic had seemed to upset her, but that only left him confused. Maybe she didn't like that fact that he would be performing with her, taking away the limelight? He frowned slightly, watching her merge into the flow of people. She couldn't be that fickle, could she? No, it seemed more than that. Ellias pursed his lips in thought, sticking his thumbs in his pockets as he walked slowly, not really picking a solid direction. Forgetting purpose, Ellias mulled over her reaction. There was small kindle burning inside him, of how life had been previous. Creating creatures from fire, elegantly detailed, for his children. Fiery butterflies, a herd of horses, he had weaved his magic in ways even Thomas had rarely seen. In fact, Thomas often brought it up as a good source of income, saying Ellias could strike the fancy of the kings themselves. He had always scoffed in return, the notion to absurd. Ellias, mingling with royalty?
He kicked a rock, watching it bounce away as the thought of Lelah waltzed back into his mind. 'What's with her...' He thought, unable to wrap his thoughts around a solid answer. She had seemed afraid, then in awe. Ellias was already bad at reading women, but Lelah was a whole other story right now. He didn't know what she was thinking and for the first time he may have been regretting his decision to join her. It had come as a sort of relief, though highly odd, to have a companion for this journey. Now, was she afraid of him? Then why would she ask him to come along, could it be some ploy, some treachery. Probably not, Ellias wasn't a particularly well known man, he had trouble finding a suitable reason for someone wanting his life. No, perhaps she was honest. But there was something she hadn't told him, and something about him made that surface in her. Rather, it bothered for the exact reasoning of, why did he care? She was paying him gold, if she couldn't handle him then that was her own fault, right? Right?
Eventually Ellias found himself sitting off a ways from the town, in a small alcove of trees. His thoughts were going all over the place, and this only furthered that feeling he got. The kind of feeling that one gets when they know they are a wreck, on the verge of an emotional break down every moment of the day. He hid it all underneath a reflective surface, thin, and fragile. Life was so hard, sometimes, he just didn't feel like going on anymore. But he kept finding excuses. Reasons, to move forward. Even now, his turmoil quelled itself as he let his magic slither from his body. A soft wave of flame crackling down his arm, leaving his clothes unmarred. It swirled in on itself, twisted into patterns as it broke into long tendrils snaking around his fingers tips. It was memorizing, the flame, the destruction of it hidden by beauty. The very thing that had taken everything he loved, was also his salvation. The fire dissipated quickly, bursting into small spots of color before flickering out as he stood quickly. Old memories haunting him as he strode from the small strand of trees. There wasn't much else to do but just wait for her to show up.
By the time Ellias made it back to the docks, the sun was already on its final descent. Only a bit longer and it would fall below the horizon, bathing the land in darkness relieved only by the soft glow of the moon. The Angler looked prosperous as ever, Captain Red shooting Ellias a huge smile as he stood there, shaking people down for their money. Perhaps Ellias had gone a little too far, a little overboard with it all. Though the adrenaline rush in his veins had mostly taken control. He ignored the captain, and every one else that got in his way as he walked, broodingly. He could see Fey in his mind's eye, 'You're such a fool,' She would tell him, laughing at him until he could do nothing but smile in return. His eyes threatened to water and Ellias squeezed them shut, refusing. He passed through the crowds, choosing instead to head towards the hill. It was really a small, grassy slope, which he flopped upon and laid looking up at the sky, stricken with splashes of orange and red as the sun set.
"There you are," she said, her voice not even remotely hiding her irritation. She'd been looking for him for the past thirty minutes. Raising her heel up she kicked the bottom of his foot. "I was worried! I couldn't find you and people are waiting on us! You... you just can't do that and disappear." Ellias yawned and peeked an eye open, Lelah was standing before him obviously irritated."You're the one who walked away from me, remember?" He stretched his arms over his head, listening to his joints popping in protest. He was about to stand before he actually gazed up at her, blinking twice to make sure she wasn't something from a dream. She looked fantastic, beautiful even. Like a true performer, using not only their skills, but their body as well. He stood, looking her up and down, "How much for a ticket?" he teased.
Lelah was now wearing a costume of green and blue silk. The fabric hung from her waist so that when she walked or danced parts of her leg showed through. Sewn into the fabric of her skirt and the opaque fabric around her chest where tiny dangling pieces of metal which twinkled in the fading light like fish scales. They chimed together with each of her steps and now sang out as she continued to relieve her irritation on the bottom of his foot. Her hair, no longer free, was done up in a variety of elaborate braids. She'd spent almost an hour intertwining more metal pieces into her hair to create what appeared to be a gilded crown. From wrist to elbow and across her ankles she wore light metallic bangles while heavier metal rings decked each finger.
She had spent the last few hours practicing moves and stretching out her muscles. Afterwards she had clean, polished, and re-polished her swords. When that was done she'd dressed and waited for him in their cabin aboard The Angler. He'd never come. While she half expected him to bolt earlier, she had been aggravated he'd decided to wait until this evening to disappear. Irritated, her limbs being dragged down by the jewelry, she'd wandered about the docks in search of him only to find him lounging away on some hill top. "That's what magic does," Lelah thought, irritated at the extra work she had to do compared to him to prepare. "It makes you lazy."
"Please," she began again, "I..." but she didn't know how to put it into words. She didn't want to perform by herself, especially with the crowds also expecting him there. She was afraid of traveling by ship, afraid of going to the Water Temple, afraid of him- of his magic. Lelah stopped tapping the bottom of her foot and looked at Ellias, expectantly. "Please, Deranger. I need your help." Ellias was taken slightly aback. His confusion growing as Lelah's mood seemed to swing on the waves of an emotional sea. Perhaps she wasn't as gathered as he had first thought, rather more like him. Slightly broken. He wondered, idly, what it was that troubled her, but the thought flittered away as he spoke. "Lelah," he spoke, softly, a voice he had used many times to comfort his wife, "We are in this together now. Once we board that boat, it will be too late to turn back. So tell me, I won't judge you." He sighed, the mixture of emotions and feelings weighing heavily upon his mind. It was all so tiring, to the point where it felt like his very soul was exhausted. He missed the quiet home life he once had.
Lelah looked at him, trying hard to understand and be understood. She’d never had to work at it before, but then again, she’d only ever been around people she’d know. ”It is too late,” she began, ”You act like I have some choice when you know I don’t. With you or without you I have to go.” Her eyes met his only briefly before they turned and faced the direction of their ship. In the fading sun the waves beneath it sparkled like jewels. Without seeing it, Lelah knew that there was an anxious crowd there waiting for them.
As for her reason for leaving so hastily before, well that was harder to say. She understood or at least she thought she understood that magic was an inseparable part of him. Yet this couldn't go on. She couldn't run and hide away in their cabin every time. He was right though, after they got on board the ship it would be hard for him to turn back. She should at least let him know now while he still had the choice to leave. "I don't like magic." Lelah confessed. "I know most people think it's wonderful- powering boats, quickly growing crops, mending bones, beautiful fire creatures," Lelah smiled to herself at the memory of his dragon but it faded as quickly as it came. "But if magic were so wonderful, then why does it kill people? I'm going on this pilgrimage to master it... but what if I can't..." she trailed off and scrubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand. "And what if I can...?" She shook her head as if trying to clear it. ”We don’t have time for this. There are people waiting for us. The show must go on.”
Ellias listened patiently, watching her face contort as she tried to express how she felt. It was clearer to him now, he didn't berate himself for not seeing it before though. Few people feared magic, but so many didn't understand it. In fact, he probably would have never mastered magic if it had not been for Thomas. He doubted he could have even completed the pilgrimage. She turned to walk away and he reached out quickly, grabbing her shoulder and turning her to face him. He looked at her, his eyes seeming to pulsate slightly, "When one masters a sword, the artistry and grace of it is beautiful. One who does not master a sword simply puts it down. All you have to do is reach the temple, I've known people who could barely create a spark after their pilgrimage. But they are alive, and happy," Ellias' words tumbled out of his mouth with a passion he didn't know he had. She reminded him so much of himself at times, the very words he was saying now were something akin to what Thomas had told him once. When all Ellias had wanted to do was give up, Thomas made him move forward. Lelah looked up at him, frozen in place by his touch. She wanted to understand him, she truly did but it was difficult. A few words, even well placed ones, barely chipped away at her emotions towards the subject.
"Come now, we have a show to perform." Ellias stated, pulling down his face guard just long enough to show off his stubble, and a big cheesy smile, before pulling it back up. He wasn't much in costume, but hey, everyone had a first time at something. He let her lead them up the ramp as he pulled the cowl of his eccentric purple clothing over his head, looking every part a master wizard.
Lelah had been shocked when she saw his face. She'd though he'd kept it hidden because he was terribly disfigured but that clearly wasn't the case. He was a very handsome man. For her sake, she was glad he liked to keep his face covered. That way she could stay focused on their journey and what she would do when she got back and think less about her attractive traveling companion.
What Ellias had said about the journey rang through her but it didn't seep in. Part of his analogy worked, but only part. It was true that people had the option to pick up a sword, but once they began to practice with it, the weapon became an extension of themselves. Master or no, she wouldn't know what to do if she ever lost her swords.
She stopped them on the gang plank, just before they stepped onto the ship. "I take it you know how to fight?" she said and reach back to grab one of the swords. Skillfully, like she'd done so many times before, she slowly unraveled the silk binding. The cloth cover fell neatly to her feet, revealing a beautifully gleaming scimitar. It shown brightly in the fading light, its sharp edge twinkling wickedly. She handed the weapon to him, hilt first. Ellias accepted the weapon, taking it by the hilt and feeling its weight. He wasn't much of a sword fighter, he was down right terrible at it. But a sword dance, he felt he could do as he gave the sword a little twirl between his fingers. "Fight yes, sword fight... well.. No."
"Be careful. These aren't just for show. The blades have a chemical on them so that when they come into contact with another treated metal-" she tapped one of her rings on the lower edge of the blade. Bright red sparks burst into life, finishing her explanation. "There are different colors for different parts of the blade. Green's here," she pointed to an area near the hilt, "And purple's there. Sword dancing is like sword fighting, only it's slower and more elaborate. Least at this stage." she smiled at him, truly happy again because she was doing something she loved. " Just follow along and try your best. I won't be too hard on you. If it makes you feel any better, most people will be focused on the half naked female standing next to you. When you think you can't handle anymore just throw the blade back at me. I'll finish up and then you can do... your thing. Alone. Sound like a plan?"
Ellias listened to her explanation of the performance the way she saw it, finding amusement in the way the blade sparked when it collided with her ring. "I'm sure I will do alright," He said, spinning the sword in slow arcs playfully, a basic trick anybody could learn, "But why settle for a good performance, when we can make it great. You don't have to be afraid of me and my magic, in fact, I'll even make you a deal. One performance, your swords, my magic, and a wager. If we earn over a thousand gold pieces we split it, anything under you can keep all for yourself." Ellias wanted to show her the beauty of magic, after all they were going on a pilgrimage. He wanted to show her that like a sword, it could be something other than death and destruction. "Of course..." he started, shrugging playfully, "If you'd like to make this a competition, I'm sure I could use a little extra gold." He was smiling again, teasing her playfully.
Lelah eyed him critically. "What's in it for you? And who's to say I won't perform badly just so I'll win? she asked under hooded eye lids. "And besides what if I don't want the gold? Hmm...? What if I want something else?" she looked at him directly, teasing him back but also testing him. "Why don't we make this a competition?" That was at least while they were performing she wouldn't have to stand right next time him. In her mind she visualized them performing with the audience caught between them and her standing at a safe distance. "What do you want if you win? The gold?" she asked her eyes twinkling. The air around her seemed to grew thicker but Lelah didn't notice. Ellias quirked an eyebrow, only because she hadn't outright refused the idea of him using magic. Rather, Ellias felt like she had something to prove.
"No, no," he said, grinning, "Should you lose, I think I will accept a kiss." He chuckled, watching her face, "And you?"
Lelah blushed a crimson streak that stretch from one check, across her nose, to the other. She could barely even look at him through her embarrassment. She quickly checked herself. She had to remember Rogov, who was waiting on her to return. She had to remember that Ellias was most likely only joking with her. She had to remember how easily men were swayed by a pretty face, and she knew she was attractive, she understood that was a critical part of the act. Most importantly she had to remember that she didn't want to lose, even if she did, because she didn't. "If I win," Lelah said, trying to think of something reasonable although her mind was being incredibly difficult at the moment, "Then you can keep all the gold I earn, at least for tonight. But I won't owe you that second payment. Deal?" She concluded, reaching out her hand. Ellias chuckled once more at her blush, shaking her hand firmly. He looked down at his hand, still holding the sword, "So, I can still use this right?" Lelah reached over and tried to take her sword from him. "Not unless you want to perform with one hand behind your back." Ellias handed the sword over with a shrug, "Fair enough," He said, his eyes twinkling again, "I'll use... magic!" He emphasized the last word in a whisper, before motioning for her towards their stage where the crowd would be waiting.
His words sent shivers down her spine. Gulping she followed after him. "I throw swords for a living," she tried to remind herself, "How dangerous can it really be?"